The Kenyan public transport system can softly be described as chaotic.
I am certain that others may have a few choice words that would make chaos less than an understatement.
In the recent past, I’ve had to use the infamous matatus to get from one point to another and it was during one of those moments that I sat in the cabin next to the driver and had an interesting conversation with him. Well, it was interesting until he was stopped by a traffic cop and was falsely accused of ignoring the traffic lights at a roundabout.
Kurika, the driver, started the conversation after he spotted a matatu that he had driven 30 years before. He told me how he has raised his four children, two girls and two boys with a base income of a matatu driver. His first born is working in the hospitality industry, his second born is in college, the third born is to complete high school next year and the last one will complete her primary schooling next year as well.
Additionally, he has built a modern retirement home and furnished it on his piece of land.
By many people’s standards, Kurika has done well for himself and his family over the years. Infact, he could have done more than a peer in formal employment.
As he talked about his achievements, Kurika mentioned how he had helped his son get a job and that he paid rent for him for 2 months as he settled into the world of work. He didn’t want anything from his children. He wanted them to build themselves economically before assuming any family responsibility also known as black tax.
That conversation with Kurika made me wonder how many of these gems there are in that chaotic industry. People who know how to separate the noise from the purpose. Individuals who refuse to have their visions get marred by corruption, and everyday risks. Personalities that take life at the simplest instruction of “sufficient for the day is the trouble therein.”
I felt challenged by this gentleman who started driving in the public sector 5 years after I was born. I was challenged to reflect on:
- How often do I fail to roll up my sleeves to do the dirty work?
- How often do I allow difficulties to build a wall between my dreams today and their achievement?
- Why do I have such a low tolerance for pain that will yield high reward and attainment?
- How do I deal with the unknown that I am liable to walk into every day that I step out of bed to do life?
If you are asking yourself similar questions, I won’t welcome you to the pity party. I will invite you to explore some thoughts I was processing that night after my encounter with Kurika.
Stress and Pain
They are necessary and not evil. Life is not inclined to gladly dish out a fulfillment of your desires. Infact, life complicates the journey to those answers and you solving those complexities is what makes up the interesting part of success.
Healthy stress gets you to stretch your thinking, think on the go, explore what is dubbed as impossible and test your value and belief system.
Pain helps you to identify your tolerance levels for what is unfavourable to you. Be they tangible or intangible, there are things that cause you heartache or physical pain and anguish and your reaction to that pain determines if you get the related fruit of forbearance or you harvest bitterness because the pain was not worth it.
Becoming vs. Pursuing Success
Pursuing success is equivalent to running down a rabbit hole. You get lost in the underground of work and tries. Wouldn’t you really rather become a success?
Becoming a success is about having focus on one priority at any one time. If we could just stop playing casino with our future where you cast lots to see which one will come back to you in abundance. Instead of playing by the rules of the house which are always set against the player, your success is better if you nurture yourself into it by becoming the person that can handle the success you are working towards. Work on your health, your purpose, your values, your belief system, your personality, your relationships, your skills, gifts and abilities. These are the things that not only epitomise success, they determine its sustainability.
As Bishop T.D. Jake’s once said, disappointments are hinged on unmet expectations. I agree, that it is difficult not to have expectations, but I would urge you to try it for a day. Offense won’t build, you won’t have demands on people and guilt-trips will be foreign to you.
Have expectations for yourself only. If you need to extend that boundary, do so with an open heart that knows the other person may not come through. Have forgiveness and the power to let go as your heightened sensory reactors. With these, whatever life throws at you will not leave you less joyful.
Live Life Like a Sponge
A sponge soaks in fluids and when squeezed, it lets out whatever it soaked in.
If you wake up in the morning and soak up water for your internal moisturization, positive vibes for your attitude, spiritual nuggets for your soul’s diet and wisdom for leaving, those are the exact outputs when the world will try to squeeze you during the day. The opposite applies, as well.
Someone once said that life is made up of 1% of the things that happen to you and 99% of how you react to the 1%. That 99% is you squeezing out what you have in you all through the day. When traffic lights change and you are late for a meeting. Or when the client’s payment did not come through. When your long time partner doesn’t even notice your new hair color and yet their opinion matters to you.
For all these circumstances, your reaction will be determined by what you carry inside of you.
I don’t know if I will meet Kurika again, but even if I don’t, that day he left an impression on me that will probably shape alot of paths that I will be on for the remainder of my life.
In my heart, there is nothing but gratitude for a man who has done well by his family amid the madness that is the matatu industry in Kenya.